Everton vs Salford City predictions

Everton vs Salford City predictions

The League Cup second round gets underway this week with Everton welcoming Salford City to Goodison Park on Wednesday night (8:15pm kick-off).

The Toffees reached the quarter-finals last season and will have aspirations of going even further this time around, with serial winner Carlo Ancelotti no doubt eyeing up silverware to truly leave his mark on Merseyside.

His side kicked off the new Premier League campaign in emphatic style, seeing off Tottenham 1-0 in the capital, with his three new midfield signings slotting in harmoniously to his new-look XI and giving Evertonians a real sense of optimism for the season ahead.

The Italian coach is accustomed to glittering European nights and pitting his wits against continental giants, so the prospect of Salford presents a different challenge for the elite tactician to say the least.

Part owned by Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and David Beckham, the League Two club will be relishing the chance to take on Premier League opposition and will hope to cause an early-round upset.

Uefa Europa Conference League

As from this season the winners of the League Cup will not qualify for the Europa League — as in previous campaigns — but will enter the play-off phase for the Uefa Europa Conference League (UECL), the new European competition starting from 2021/22.

The third-tier continental tournament was announced in December 2018 and gets underway next season. However, this does not mean the number of teams qualifying for the Champions League or the Europa League will be affected. There will still be four English clubs in the Champions League and two in the Europa League.

If the League Cup winners qualify for European competition by their standing in the league, then the team who finished sixth in the Premier League (or seventh if the FA Cup is won by a top-six club) will enter the UECL play-offs.

The Europa Conference League will be played on a Thursday night alongside the Europa League and will consist of 32 teams in the group stages. The premise is to allow teams from smaller European leagues to compete in continental football alongside some of the bigger nations.

For Everton this may well present the perfect opportunity to prioritise a competition like the League Cup. The Toffees have not lifted silverware since their FA Cup win in 1995, so the prospect of a domestic cup run with the opportunity to mark a return to Europe could be a tantalising one for Ancelotti as he weighs up his priorities this term.

Everton & Salford City’s previous line-ups:

  • Everton (vs Tottenham): Pickford; Coleman, Mina, Keane, Digne; Allan, Doucoure, Gomes; Rodriguez, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin.
  • Salford City (vs Exeter City): Hladky; Threlkeld, Eastham, Clarke, Touray; Lowe, Gibson, Hunter; Armstrong, Andrade, Henderson.

Fabian Delph, Mason Holgate, Cenk Tosun and Jean-Philippe Gbamin all remain sidelined for Everton. Ancelotti may be tempted to play around with his side following the win over Spurs, with players like Jonjoe Kenny, Tom Davies and Moise Kean in line to make the starting XI.

Players to watch:

  • Everton: If Ancelotti does indeed tinker with his side, this could be the perfect opportunity for the Italian to get a closer look at academy graduate Jonjoe Kenny. The adventurous right-back shone during an audacious loan move to Schalke last season and will be desperate to fight his way into first-team plans at Goodison Park. Standing in his way, though, is club captain Seamus Coleman, but if Kenny can impress when handed the opportunity, he will be putting considerable pressure on his 31-year-old right-back counterpart.
  • Salford City: In a game of such magnitude for Salford, the club will need cool and composed heads to settle the nerves and handle the big occasion. In Darron Gibson, manager Graham Alexander has a player who not only packs a wealth of experience and top-flight ability, but also someone who knows the opposition very well. The former Manchester United midfielder plied his trade for Everton across a five year spell between 2012 and 2017. Admittedly times have changed quite drastically since the Irishman left Goodison Park, but a few of his old teammates have stuck around and could get a run out later this week. Gibson will be chomping at the bit to get stuck in and prove his worth at his old stomping ground.

Scoreline prediction: Everton 2-0 Salford City

Celtic vs Ferencvaros predictions

Celtic vs Ferencvaros predictions

Celtic will continue their quest to reach the Champions League group stages when they play host to Hungarian champions Ferencvaros at Parkhead on Wednesday night (7:45pm kick-off). 

The Bhoys have already blitzed past Icelandic outfit KR Reykjavik 6-0 in the first qualifying round, but face a much more potent threat in the form of Ferencvaros. Their defeat to Romanian club Cluj in the qualifying phase last year should act as a cautionary tale when facing Eastern European opposition.

The Green Eagles clinched their 31st Hungarian title last season and have previous in continental football, having defeated Juventus in the 1965 Fairs Cup and reached the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1975, but they haven’t competed in the Champions League group stages since the 1995/96 campaign.

Managed by former Tottenham and West Ham striker Serhiy Rebrov, Ferencvaros have already knocked out Djurgardens IF of Sweden but travel to Glasgow knowing they are in for a much tougher test. The question is: who will come out on top at Celtic Park?

Celtic & Ferencvaros’s previous UCL line-ups:

  • Celtic (vs KR Reykjavik): Barkas; Elhamed, Jullien, Bitton, Taylor; Brown, McGregor, Forrest, Christie, Elyounoussi; Edouard.
  • Ferencvaros (vs Djurgardens IF): Dibusz; Botka, Kovacevic, Blazic, Civic; Kharatin, Somalia, Isael; Nguen, Uzuni, Boli.

Summer signing Albian Ajeti made his debut in the previous qualifier against Reykjavik and scored his first Celtic goal at the weekend against Dundee United, so he could be rewarded with a start on Wednesday, either in front of star striker Odsonne Edouard, or alongside him.

Ferencvaros have their own threats, and one who could cause the Celtic midfield a few problems is Rio de Janeiro native Somalia, who returned to Budapest this summer after a spells away with Toulouse and in the Middle East. Without the rousing Celtic atmosphere, the Brazilian believes the hosts aren’t the favourites entering this contest.

“Celtic has a lot of history and tradition as a club but they are not favourites for this match,” he declared. “Without fans it makes our chances level. We have a 50 per cent qualifying chance.”

Players to watch:

  • Celtic: Mohamed Elyounoussi helped himself to a brace in the thrashing of KR Reykjavik in the last round, netting the first and last goals against the Icelandic outfit. The Norway international has the ability to make the difference for Neil Lennon’s side and – with his confidence high – may well find himself on the scoresheet in midweek again.
  • Ferencvaros: Signed from Norwegian club Stabaek in 2018, Franck Boli poses a menacing threat for the Hungarian club, meaning Celtic’s defence will need to remain sturdy and alert when he takes to the field. The Ivorian was the Eliteserien (Norwegian first division) top scorer in 2018 and provided an assist in the previous round against Djurgardens IF, so the Bhoys can expect a tough night of football when the Hungarian titans roll in.

Scoreline prediction: Celtic 2-1 Ferencvaros

Lyon vs Dijon predictions

Lyon vs Dijon predictions

Lyon will commence their Ligue 1 season on Friday night against Dijon (20:00 kick-off), just over a week since they were eliminated from the Champions League semi-finals at the hands of eventual winners Bayern Munich. 

Rudi Garcia’s men put up a valiant fight in the continent’s flagship tournament earlier this month, knocking out Juventus and Manchester City en route to their semi-final showdown against Bayern, but they will be desperate to improve upon their seventh-placed finish in Ligue 1 last term.

The Kids will not be competing in Europe this campaign following a disappointing domestic campaign in 2019/20, in which the French top-flight ended prematurely. As a result they can focus solely on domestic affairs this time round and potentially causing an upset in the upper slopes against reigning French champions PSG.

The Ligue 1 season got underway at the weekend, and Dijon kicked things off with a tame 1-0 reversal against Angers, so manager Stephane Jobard will be eager to bounce back at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais, though he faces a very tough task against an in-form Lyon.

Lyon & Dijon‘s previous line-ups:

  • Lyon (vs Bayern Munich): Lopes; Denayer, Marcelo, Marcal; Dubois, Caqueret, Guimaraes, Aouar, Cornet; Ekambi, Depay.
  • Dijon (vs Angers): Gomis; Ngouyamsa, Manga, Lautoa, Ngonda; Marie, Diop, Ndong; Dina-Ebimbe, Chouiar, Scheidler.

Despite just recently playing Bayern in the Champions League semi-final, Garcia is likely to name an unchanged XI, bar one or two tweaks. Lyon’s poor domestic finish to 2019/20 will give the Kids an added incentive to redeem themselves this time round and that could start with a convincing performance against Dijon on home turf.

Players to watch:

  • Lyon: Part of the reason for Lyon’s disastrous domestic season last time out was twofold. First, Sylvinho oversaw a shocking start to the campaign, which included seven successive winless games and culminated in his sacking. The second was an anterior cruciate ligament injury sustained by club captain Memphis Depay in mid-December. The Dutchman had scored nine goals in 13 Ligue 1 games prior to his injury, and Lyon won just four games in the subsequent nine without their skipper. Having finished just a point outside the top six, there is little doubt Depay’s involvement would have got them over the line. Either way, he is now back, fit and firing on all cylinders and will be determined to make up for lost time.
  • Dijon: The Owls have their work cut out for them when they face an attack as threatening and lethal as Lyon’s, as Man City and Juventus will attest to. The attacking duo of Depay and Karl Toko Ekambi, flanked by the speed and precision of Maxwel Cornet, means Dijon could be in for a tough night of football, which is why the club’s more experienced heads need to stand up and take control. In 32-year-old Bruno Ecuele Manga, Dijon have a centre-back with vast experience and someone who, having plied his trade for Cardiff City in the Premier League, has tussled with the likes of Sergio Aguero and Gabonese teammate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang — he knows what it takes to face the big boys and that will be key on Friday night.

Scoreline prediction: Lyon 3-1 Dijon

Inter Milan vs Sevilla

Inter Milan vs Sevilla prediction

The stage is set in Cologne for the 2019/20 Europa League final between Sevilla and Inter Milan on Friday night (20:00 kick-off).

Sevilla are the record title holders of this competition and will look to extend their trophy cabinet to six when they take to the turf later this week.

Under former Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui they have defeated Premier League opposition in Wolves and Man Utd to reach the showpiece and will be confident of knocking out another of the continent’s perennial powerhouses.

This will be the first-ever meeting in Europe between these two sides and it offers a tantalising prospect between two giants of the game. Inter Milan are unbeaten in the Europa League this term, having dropped out of the Champions League, while Sevilla have never lost a tie in Europe that’s been played out over a single leg.

Antonio Conte is a serial winner and won this competition — then known as the UEFA Cup — during his playing days for Juventus, so he will know what it takes to get the job done and secure continental silverware for the Nerazzurri. But, Sevilla will not go down without a fight.

Sevilla & Inter Milan’s previous line-ups:

  • Sevilla (vs Man Utd): Bono; Navas, Kounde, Carlos, Reguilon; Fernando, Jordan, Banega; Suso, Ocampos, En-Nesyri
  • Inter Milan (vs Shakhtar Donetsk): Handanovic; Godin, De Vrij, Bastoni; D’Ambrosio, Barella, Brozovic, Gagliardini, Young; Lukaku, Martinez.

Both managers are likely to name unchanged XIs from their semi-final victories, with Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez set to continue their blossoming partnership up-top for Inter Milan, but they face one of Europe’s most in-form and formidable defences in Sevilla.

Jesus Naves and Sergio Reguilon have proven a revelation as full-back options this term, while the centre-back acquaintanceship of Jules Kounde and Diego Carlos will not part quite so openly as Inter found against Shakhtar in their 5-0 drubbing last time out.   

Players to watch: 

Sevilla: This game is set to be the final in a Sevilla jersey for midfielder Ever Banega who agreed to end his second spell at Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán earlier this year. The 32-year-old Argentine will soon relocate to Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Shabab, before that a chance to win a third Europa League title at the expense of former side Inter Milan, and the ex-Nerazzurri man has been in good form of late having assisted in their wins over AS Roma and Wolves.

Inter Milan: “It’s been a while since I’ve played like this, [those] goals are very important to me, we are preparing for big things,” was the verdict of Lautaro Martinez after Inter breezed into this season’s Europa League final. And he wasn’t kidding. Martinez, who has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona, grabbed a brace and created another in their 5-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk, both efforts were his first in the competition since the round of 32.

Scoreline prediction: Sevilla 1-2 Inter Milan

Europa League 2019/20 recent form:

  • Sevilla: WWWDD
  • Inter Milan: WWWWW

Bayern Munich vs Barcelona

Five things we think will happen in Bayern Munich vs Barcelona

Bayern Munich vs. Barcelona is undoubtedly the blockbuster tie of the Champions League quarter-finals.

The two five-times winners are the only former European champions left in the competition and will go head-to-head under the Friday night lights. The match will showcase two genuine European heavyweights, including the best player in the world and the best striker in the world, and should be an enthralling contest. We’ve predicted five things we think will happen in Barcelona vs. Bayern Munich.

1. The midfield battle will be a treat

You don’t see too many fantastic midfield battles these days. As pressing and counter-pressing has become more of a thing, it’s hard for great midfields to come together and dominate games. Bayern Munich are an exception, as their dominance over the Bundesliga allows their incredible players to shine. Playmakers like Thiago Alcantara and Leon Goretzka dominate in all areas of the game.

Meanwhile Barcelona were the vanguard for great midfields, and although those standards are slipping Sergio Busquets is still a peerless force in the middle of the pitch (even if he needs more rest than he used to) and Frenkie de Jong is a blue chip, A-1, S-tier footballing prodigy. Obviously the third spot in Barcelona’s midfield could be equally fantastic, but even if they opt for Arturo Vidal over Riqui Puig there is still intense quality that comes with the Chilean and the narrative of him taking on his old side could be interesting.

Whichever way you slice it, this will be a midfield battle to savour. A fully rested Busquets going up against his old team-mate Thiago, who is coming off an all-world performance against Chelsea? The mouth waters!

2. Leo Messi will create chances

Lionel Messi, the 19th most ‘valuable’ player on Football Index

One of the stranger narratives emerging about Leo Messi vs. Liverpool last season is that he had a bad game at Anfield as the Blaugrana crashed out from Europe. And sure, he didn’t have his best night but he was directly involved in every chance Barca had that night with five shots and three chances created.

Those three chances were all golden, as well, with the Argentine putting Philippe Coutinho, Luis Suárez and Jordi Alba into 1v1 situations with Alisson. His team-mates all fluffed their lines, and Liverpool made history.

Now Barcelona face down a Bayern Munich juggernaut, and they may be up against it, but Messi will certainly still manage to create chances. He always does. Especially if Bayern aren’t able to call on Alphonso Davies due to injury. The Argentine will always get his passes off, he’ll always wreak havoc, and it’ll be up to his team-mates to deliver the finishing touches.

3. Bayern will target the full-backs

The amusing thing about Barcelona’s defence is that most of it is actually pretty great. Marc-André Ter Stegen is one of the world’s best goalkeepers, Gerard Piqué and Clement Lenglet among the best centre-backs, and Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong are masterful defensive midfielders, also amongst the world’s finest.

So why do Barcelona concede so many chances? Well, putting it charitably, their full-backs are less than stellar. Putting it more accurately, they’re bang average but playing in an offensive and expansive system that exposes both them and the defence as a whole.

Nelson Semedo and Jordi Alba are very promising going forward, and Semedo is a terrific 1v1 defender and decent on the cover, but neither know how to defend space. Alba is a problem because he can get played around by simple one-twos, and Semedo’s tendency to get sucked in and leave his man unmarked at the far-post is becoming legendary.

Bayern Munich will be all too aware that if they attack Barcelona in the space behind the full-backs, they will get plenty of joy. Quique Setién’s diamond formation (which he is likely to use against Bayern) exacerbates this issue as it asks both full-backs to constantly play very high up the field. The likes of Serge Gnabry and Alphonso Davies are going to have a field day running into those spaces.

4. Lewandowski will make history, Suárez will become history

Lewandowski's stats profile on Football Index

Lewandowski’s stats profile on Football Index.

With just one goal against Barcelona, Robert Lewandowski will become just the fifth player to score 50 Champions League goals for a single club, and the very first to do it for a team besides Barça or Real Madrid. He will also become only the third player ever to score in eight straight Champions League games. These would be phenomenal achievements, and in fact they will be phenomenal achievements because there is simply no way that Barcelona will be able to keep this man out for 90 (or 120) minutes.

“Robert Lewandowski is a player that has improved with age and although on the wrong side of 30, he doesn’t look like stopping any time soon. With a staggering 56 goals already this season and an incredible record in the Champions league, £2.72 could be a snip for him on Football Index. He takes penalties and often free kicks and scores goals for fun. He is however at the highest price he has been at in some time and it’s always worth treading carefully when buying players with specific games in mind as he could easily drop off if Barca were to get the win.

However win or lose, he is a solid hold for at least another season and his dividend returns should outweigh any doubt in his price. There are a few other players from Bayern that could be valuable holds, including Thiago, who is great for performance dividends and a likely transfer target for Liverpool, which could see his price rise.” – tipster Craig Rennie, of Football Index Elite

And while Lewandowski is setting records, the striker at the other end, the one striker who can claim to be definitively better than Lewandowski over the last decade, is going to cement his inexorable decline. Luis Suárez has been a legendary goalscorer for Barcelona, but age defeats everyone. Especially those who rely on their athleticism as the Uruguayan does.

Suárez has not scored a Champions League goal outside of the Camp Nou since September 2015. Literally half a decade ago. Since then he has played 1,896 minutes without scoring, taking 67 shots in that time. His profligacy will continue in Portugal, only highlighting his athletic inadequacy and how much of a detriment he is to Barcelona’s play as a whole.

5. Bayern Munich will win

When you look at all the above, there’s only one logical conclusion for Friday night’s clash: Bayern Munich will win. The Bavarians are just too strong and would have given a firing and in-form Barcelona a game, let alone the misfiring outfit that the Blaugrana are now.

Moreover, Bayern have a great record against Barcelona throughout history. In the eight matches the pair have played, Barcelona have won just two (at the Camp Nou in 2009 and 2015), drawing once and losing five times against the Bavarians. That bodes ill for their chances.

Finally, Bayern are in absolutely incredible form. The Bavarians have won the last 18 competitive games in a row. They’ve won 22 out of 23 competitive games this year. They’ve already picked up the Bundesliga and the DFB Pokal and will be looking to add the Champions League to secure their second-ever treble. Now whether they’ll go all the way is still up for debate, but they will beat Barcelona.

RB Leipzig vs Atletico Madrid

RB Leipzig vs Atletico Madrid

RB Leipzig are competing in the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in their history but face a tough task in 2016 finalists Atletico Madrid in Lisbon on Thursday night (20:00 kick-off).

Julian Nagelsmann’s Leipzig have already navigated a tough Group G, which included the likes of Lyon and Benfica, as well as annihilating Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 on aggregate in the last-16, but this encounter presents their toughest challenge thus far.

Atleti are notoriously difficult to break down, so the Saxony club will need to be firing on all cylinders when they take to the Estadio Jose Alvalade. Their hopes of breaching the Madrid goalmouth have been dented, however, after star striker Timo Werner opted to join Chelsea before the end of the protracted season.

Diego Simeone’s men will be hoping to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 2016/17 and have already eliminated reigning champions Liverpool, but can Los Colchoneros pull off another huge win and set up a meeting against one of Atalanta or PSG in the penultimate round?

Previous XIs & pre-match team news:

  • RB Leipzig (vs Augsburg): Mvogo; Konate, Upamecano, Halstenberg; Mukiele, Adams, Haidara, Tasende; Forsberg, Olmo; Werner*.
  • Atletico Madrid (vs Real Sociedad): Oblak; Trippier, Savic, Felipe, Lodi; Koke, Herrera, Partey, Vitolo; Costa, Morata.

It was confirmed by Atletico Madrid on Monday that both Angel Correa and Sime Vrsaljko have tested positive for coronavirus and will now undergo a period of self-isolation at home, meaning they have not travelled with the squad for Thursday’s meeting.

With Timo Werner now in west London after completing his move to Chelsea, RB Leipzig will need to tweak things around up front, which could mean a two-man partnership of Yussuf Poulsen and Patrik Schick. In other news, last-16 hero Marcel Sabitzer is a major doubt for this clash.

Players to watch:

RB Leipzig: Werner is now out of the equation of course, and Marcel Sabitzer, who netted twice in the previous round, is a potential absentee. So Nagelsmann will need to look elsewhere for a trusty source of goals, especially as the Bundesliga club are coming up against one of the most formidable defences in Europe. One player who could prove the difference-maker in this one-legged contest is Emil Forsberg, who scored the final goal in Leipzig’s win over Spurs. The Swede is currently enjoying his most prolific campaign, with 10 goals in all competitions, and has scored four of Leipzig’s last eight Champions League goals. Each of those came in the opening or closing 10 minutes of the match, too.

Atletico Madrid: RB Leipzig have never been involved in a goalless Champions League draw, so expect some fireworks on Thursday night. Granted, the German club have only contested in 14 matches in Europe’s flagship tournament, but they are typically a side accustomed to feasts of goalscoring activity. With this being a straight knockout match, Simeone will know his side need goals themselves, and in Alvaro Morata, he has a striker who likes to turn up in these latter stages. Eight of Morata’s 15 Champions League goals have come in the knockout stages (53 per cent), which is more than any other Spaniard since 2013/14. So don’t be surprised to see the former Chelsea marksman turning up and doing the business in Portugal.

Scoreline prediction: RB Leipzig 1-2 Atletico Madrid

Champions League 2019/20 recent form:

  • RB Leipzig: WWDDW
  • Atletico Madrid: WWWLL
Atalanta vs PSG

Atalanta vs PSG: Predictions

Paris Saint-Germain are looking to end a 25-year wait to reach the Champions League semi-finals when they face a spirited Atalanta side in Lisbon on Wednesday night (20:00 kick-off).

The reigning French champions have flattered to deceive in European competition it recent years, finding themselves on the wrong end of stunning comebacks, which ultimately cost a few managers their respective jobs.

Current incumbent Thomas Tuchel looked to be on the chopping block after Manchester United eliminated them last season, but the powers that be resisted that urge, and by promoting a long-term vision their dreams could be realised this month.

But they must get past this season’s unlikely quarter-finalists. Not many fancied Italian upstarts Atalanta being two wins away from reaching the final, but here we are. Gian Piero Gasperini’s men — who bagged 98 goals across their 2019/20 Serie A campaign — are here on merit and PSG would be foolish to take them lightly.

Atalanta & PSG’s previous line-ups:

  • Atalanta (vs Inter Milan): Gollini; Tolói, Caldara, Djimsiti; Castagne, Freuler, De Roon, Gosens; Pasalic, Papu Gómez; Zapata.
  • PSG (vs Lyon): Navas; Kurzawa*, Silva, Kimpembe, Bakker; Marquinhos, Gueye, Verratti*; Di María*, Icardi, Neymar.

Gian Piero Gasperini has no fresh injury worries ahead of their quarter-final showdown. PSG, meanwhile, are stretched with Ángel Di María suspended while Marco Verratti and Layvin Kurzawa are injured. Kylian Mbappé is a doubt after sustaining an ankle injury last month with some reports suggesting he could make an unlikely comeback.

Players to watch:

  • Atalanta: This is uncharted territory for Atalanta who have now established themselves as a top-four club in Serie A, and following Juventus’ surprise elimination at the hands of Lyon, there’s a sense of salvaging Italian pride on Wednesday evening. Gian Piero Gasperini’s men will continue to relish their underdog status, knowing very well the pressure is on mega rich PSG, and if they can keep the ball moving through playmaker Alejandro Gómez there’s a strong chance of causing an upset. In his eight previous appearances this season Gómez has created no fewer than 13 chances, more than anyone wearing an Atalanta jersey, whilst averaging 37.55 successful passes per game.
  • PSG: It goes without saying Neymar joined Paris Saint-Germain for one reason and that is bringing the Champions League to France’s capital for the very first time. Since becoming part of the Parisian furniture he’s been nothing short of prolific, having bagged 70 goals across 82 outings, with his Champions League tally standing at 14 strikes in 17 appearances. However, this game will be Neymar’s quarter-final debut for PSG, and given question marks surrounding Mbappé’s involvement all eyes will be on world football’s most expensive player to produce a display worthy of his talents.

Scoreline prediction: Atalanta 1-2 PSG

Wolves v Olympiacos

Wolves vs Olympiacos

Wolverhampton Wanderers‘ hopes of European football for 2020/21 sees them host Olympiacos in the Europa League last-16 on Thursday at 8:00pm.

Arsenal‘s FA Cup win at the weekend means Wolves failed to qualify for next season’s Europa League, but a shock Champions League spot could still be on the cards if they win this year’s Europa League.

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men currently hold a slight advantage over Olympiacos going into their last-16 second leg on Thursday, thanks to an away goal in their 1-1 draw in Greece back in March.

A win for Wolves would see their long Europa League journey continue, having started in the qualifying rounds on July 25, 2019 – over a year ago. But standing in their way are an Olympiacos side who have already knocked out English opposition in the Europa League, beating Arsenal in the last-32 which included a 2-1 win at the Emirates.

Player to watch:

Players aren’t often used to playing knockout European football with transfer rumours surrounding them and their future in doubt, but that’ll be the case on Thursday for Raul Jimenez.

The Mexican forward has enjoyed another good season at Molineux, scoring 26 goals in 53 games across all competitions, including 17 in the Premier League.  Since joining initially on loan from Benfica at the start of the 2018/19 season, Jimenez has now scored 43 goals in 97 games for Wolves – already his highest tally at a single club.

And although Jimenez appears to have his heart in Wolves, as does his family, the Mexican is currently being linked with a move to the likes of Manchester United and Juventus.

United appear to be the more likely destination as they look to build on their third-placed Premier League finish, with Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and Odion Ighalo the club’s current recognised strikers.

But, for now, Jimenez’s focus is on going all the way with Wolves.

“We have to think big,” he said.

“If we think like this – we want to be in the final and win it, we have to go with that mentality and effort – we can achieve it.

“If we go with our heads down, we aren’t going to achieve anything. We all know each other; we know we are a good team that works together. We have to think bigger.”

Scoreline prediction: Wolves 2-1 Olyampiacos

Europa League 2019/20 recent form:

  1. Wolves: DWWLD
  2. Olympiacos: LWD
Manchester United VS LASK Linz

Manchester United VS LASK Linz

Manchester United play host to LASK in the Europa League round-of-16 second leg with a five-goal advantage on Thursday night.

The Red Devils cruised to a 5-0 win in the first leg and will be confident of progressing to the mini-tournament in Germany for the latter rounds of this season’s Europa League.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have already secured Champions League football for next season after finishing in the Premier League top four, but having come up short in the FA Cup semi-finals last month, the Norwegian will be desperate to clinch his first piece of silverware in the dugout.

It will take a monumental effort from Valerien Ismael’s side to reach the quarter-finals, but crazier things have happened in football. So, will this be a routine win for the hosts? Or can the Black-Whites pull something special out of the bag?

Man Utd & LASK’s first leg line-ups:

  • Man Utd: Romero; Williams, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw*; Fred, McTominay, Mata, Fernandes, James; Ighalo.
  • LASK: Schlager; Ramsebner, Trauner, Ranftl; Reiter, Holland, Michorl, Renner; Tetteh, Klauss, Frieser.

Luke Shaw, Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe are all ruled out of this fixture, but further forward, Solskjaer has a full squad to select from. 

Published: 18:38, 4 August 2020

Manchester United play host to LASK in the Europa League round-of-16 second leg with a five-goal advantage on Thursday night.

The Red Devils cruised to a 5-0 win in the first leg and will be confident of progressing to the mini-tournament in Germany for the latter rounds of this season’s Europa League.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have already secured Champions League football for next season after finishing in the Premier League top four, but having come up short in the FA Cup semi-finals last month, the Norwegian will be desperate to clinch his first piece of silverware in the dugout.

It will take a monumental effort from Valerien Ismael’s side to reach the quarter-finals, but crazier things have happened in football. So, will this be a routine win for the hosts? Or can the Black-Whites pull something special out of the bag?


Man Utd & LASK’s first leg line-ups:

  • Man Utd: Romero; Williams, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw*; Fred, McTominay, Mata, Fernandes, James; Ighalo.
  • LASK: Schlager; Ramsebner, Trauner, Ranftl; Reiter, Holland, Michorl, Renner; Tetteh, Klauss, Frieser.

Luke Shaw, Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe are all ruled out of this fixture, but further forward, Solskjaer has a full squad to select from. 

Players to watch:

  • Man Utd: Since the resumption of football on these shores, Man Utd have been in exceptional form, losing just one game in 11 and finding the back of the net at an alarming rate. Bruno Fernandes has undoubtedly played a huge part in that upturn in form, but the growing emergence of Mason Greenwood has added extra potency to Solskjaer’s attacking third. The free-scoring teenager ran riot in the Premier League towards the latter stages, but he has been firing them in for fun in the Europa League all season. Thus far he has netted five goals, the second-most of any player in the tournament, and will be looking to add to that total in the coming weeks.
  • LASK: If the Austrian club are to pull off one of the great comebacks of modern football, then they will need their most clinical players on song and in the form of their lives. One player who could make an impact in this game is Marko Raguz, the 22-year-old Austrian forward, who has netted five goals in the Europa League this season, more than any of his teammates. It’s a tall order, but Raguz has shown he has the capacity to make a difference in this tournament, and Solskjaer should be wary of this threat.

Scoreline prediction: Man Utd 2-0 LASK

Europa League 2019/20 recent form:

  • Man Utd: WWDWL
  • LASK: LWDWW
Parma vs Atalanta predictions

Parma vs Atalanta predictions

Atalanta will be looking to make further strides in their push for second when they visit Parma on Tuesday evening at 6:30 PM.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s side have been Serie A’s most entertaining team this season and go into the penultimate round four goals away from reaching a century.

Parma, meanwhile, sit in mid-table and though Roberto D’Aversa’s charges have nothing realistically left to play for, they can boost their confidence with a big scalp.

Parma & Atalanta’s previous line-ups:

  • Parma (vs Brescia): Sepe; Laurini, Iacoponi, Dermaku, Darmian; Kurtic, Barillà, Kucka; Kulusevski, Gervinho, Caprari.
  • Atalanta (vs AC Milan): Gollini; Tolói, Caldara, Djimsiti; Hateboer, Freuler, De Roon, Gosens; Malinovskyi, Papu Gómez; Zapata.

Hernani, Matteo Scozzarella and Andreas Cornelius are missing for Parma while Gaston Brugman, back from suspension, is a doubt with a muscular injury. Atalanta, meanwhile, are sweating over the fitness of Josip Ilicic.

Players to watch:

  • Parma: After enduring a seven-match winless run, which included six defeats, Parma are finishing 2019/20 on a strong note. They go into the penultimate round having won their last two matches and playing a pivotal role is Swedish winger Dejan Kulusevski, who scored in the wins over Napoli and Brescia. That brought his tally for this campaign to nine goals, another here will not only see him reach double figures but score in three consecutive games, something he’s not managed this season.
  • Atalanta: Although they are unbeaten in their last nine matches on the road Atalanta have now failed to win three away games on the bounce. That being said, two of those draws came at Juventus and AC Milan, plus they are regularly finding the net. One person, in particular, who is having joy in front of goal is Duván Zapata who scored in each of those aforementioned games, he’s currently on 18 for the season.With two games remaining it will be a tall order for him to match last season’s tally of 23 but rest assured, he and his Atalanta teammates will try their level best.

Scoreline prediction: Parma 1-3 Atalanta

Serie A 2019/20 recent form:

  • Parma: DLLWW
  • Atalanta: DWDWD